Constructing an Enforceable Prenuptial Agreement

A couple’s engagement is an exciting time filled with happiness and optimistic hopes about the future. The last thing many engaged couples want to think about is the possibility that the marriage may not last forever. However, individuals of high net worth may wish to protect their assets in anticipation of marriage. When creating a prenuptial agreement, it is important to pay special attention to legal disclosure and formality requirements.

In Connecticut, prenuptial agreements are often enforceable against a signing party. For prenuptial agreements entered into prior to October 1, 1995, Connecticut courts will apply a three-part test to determine enforceability. First, the agreement must be a validly formed contract under contract law. Second, the agreement must not violate public policy. Finally, circumstances at the time of enforcement must not be so beyond the parties’ expectations at the time of the signing so as to work an injustice.

All prenuptial agreements created on or after October 1, 1995 fall under the Connecticut Premarital Agreement Act. This act was adopted in order to legitimize prenuptial agreements and to loosen restraints on their enforcement. Connecticut courts have held that the party against whom a prenuptial agreement is being enforced must have had a reasonable time before marriage to consult with an independent attorney. Additionally, the party seeking enforcement must have properly disclosed information regarding financial obligations, income, and property value prior to creation of the agreement.

Common defenses raised by parties seeking to prevent enforcement of a prenuptial agreement created after October 1, 1995 include:

  • Unconscionability either at the time the agreement was made or at the time of enforcement
  • Involuntariness of signature at the time the agreement was made
  • Unfair or unreasonable disclosure of the other party’s net worth at the time the agreement was made

An experienced Connecticut divorce attorney can provide the guidance you need to create a prenuptial arrangement that works for you.